Remember Zimmerman on FOX News? Remember Marissa Alexander? Remember Ralph Wald?

Edit: Though I got Marissa Alexander’s name right in the post, I somehow screwed up and had “Marissa Thomas” in the post title (where did THAT come from??). I’m changing the display title, but as I already have incoming traffic on it, and I’m not about to SSH into the server and make an htaccess 301 redirect to fix one blog post on my personal blog because that’s stupid, I’m not changing the post slug.

In the wake of George Zimmerman being declared not guilty in his actions of following, confronting against orders of the 911 dispatcher, then shooting the unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, I want to remind you that he had an interview about eleven months ago on FOX News. During that interview, he told every one paying attention what would happen when tried by a jury of his peers in Florida.

It was God’s will that Zimmerman ignore the dispatcher, follow the teen and confront him. It was God’s will that Zimmerman shoot and kill Martin. Therefore Zimmerman doesn’t need to have any remorse.

Remember, also, black Floridian Marissa Alexander firing a warning shot at her aggressively-approaching abusive husband and getting twenty years?

Remember also Ralph Wald, 70 year old white man, shooting and killing his wife’s lover in a crime of passion, and getting off scott free?

It doesn’t seem to matter the circumstances of the shooting or who was the aggressor. It matters, it seems, only whether or not the shooter and the victim were white.

There is no justice in this. This is an absolute miscarriage of justice. And Zimmerman has zero remorse because he — like so many others — believes that everything he did was in service of a god that we’re almost certain doesn’t exist.

This Stand Your Ground nonsense, selectively applied to hurt only black folks, disgusts me. Floridians, for allowing that law to exist, and for acquitting a man who was most certainly guilty of being the aggressor in a confrontation with an unarmed teenager, disgust me too.

Remember Zimmerman on FOX News? Remember Marissa Alexander? Remember Ralph Wald?

32 thoughts on “Remember Zimmerman on FOX News? Remember Marissa Alexander? Remember Ralph Wald?

  1. 1

    Before the lynch mob forms to hang George Zimmerman from a sour apple tree, consider the analysis of the entire affair by George Washington Un. law professor Jonathan Turley.

    I have said from day one that the case was overcharged. Recall that the police officer who was in charge of the crime scene, after interviewing the ambulance technicians and Zimmerman, wanted to charge him with manslaughter, which advice was rejected by the DA. That was the correct charge. The charge of 2nd degree murder was piffle and political. As Turley says, the prosecution put on a weak case with many of their witnesses helping the defense case. Don’t accuse the jury of jury nullification, as all too many “experts” charged the OJ Simpson jury with. Based on the law of guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the prosecution didn’t come close to meeting that burden.

  2. 2

    None of that defrays my disgust, but redirects it, slc1. If the jury itself isn’t at fault, then the confluence of wagon-circling by all parties making this case poorly argued and weakly organized all conspired to let Zimmerman literally get away with murder.

  3. 3

    Having just moved away from the Ga/Fl border, I wish I could call you on your generalization, Jason. I wish I could tell you that the area is no more racist than the rest of the nation. I wish I could tell you Floridians, Georgians, and Carolinians are good people. Having lived among them though, I can only resign in agreement. The good seem few and huddled in protective groups.

    Perhaps if we all boycott Florida, the theme parks and Spring Break towns will drag the state into the 21st century?

  4. 4

    Re Jason Thibault @ #2

    I don’t know how things work in Canada but in the US, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. As Turley points out, this they failed to do. The fact is that the prosecution had a weak case from the get go, particularly relative to the charge of 2nd degree murder. The only thing that one can fairly construe from the evidence presented is that Martin and Zimmerman got into a fight and that Zimmerman was getting the worst of it. Although it is, perhaps, self satisfying to accuse the prosecution of incompetence, it is quite possible that they did the best they could with the state of the evidence.

    I should point out that the jury didn’t find Zimmerman innocent. They found that the prosecution didn’t prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Actually, a Scotch verdict, not proven.

    By the way, it is not incumbent for the defense to prove anything. In fact, there is no requirement that they put on a case at all. The defense chose to put on a case and did a good job, probably because they had a lot more to work with then the prosecution did.

  5. 5

    slc1: It works exactly the same way in Canada, and I’m rather irritated that you chose to act as though I was arguing for something different here. Look at what I’m actually suggesting — that the entire situation is part of a pattern.

    The facts are in evidence, and I agree that the overcharge problem hobbled the case against Zimmerman. It does not change the fact that Zimmerman had no business attacking Martin, and it does not change the fact that Martin was the one standing his ground, and it does not change the fact that Martin is now dead and Zimmerman got zero time. And it does not change the fact that white folks can shoot people in various circumstances and get away with it in Florida, but black folks can not even fire a gun and NOT hit someone, without jail time.

    In Zimmerman’s specific case, they refused to pick him up for 44 days despite the first investigator suggesting a charge of manslaughter. They overcharged him in response to public pressure to actually HAVE a trial. That overcharge resulted in a weaker case for the charge, which in turn resulted in Zimmerman going free. I can’t help but see racism in the entire thing.

    Imagine for a moment that their colors were reversed but every other salient detail was identical. How do you figure this case would have gone? Would a black Zimmerman have been arrested immediately and charged with manslaughter, or allowed to wander free for 44 days before being charged for a crime that couldn’t be effectively proven with the evidence at hand?

  6. 6

    The only known case of “stand your ground” that didn’t turn out to be a travesty was a white-on-white case. Jorge Saavedra killed Dylan Nuno, a bully who tormented him relentlessly for months. Unlike the other cases, Saavedra didn’t even need the stupid “SYG law” because he was avoiding a fight before being attacked and then defending himself with the minimum force necessary.

    “Stand your ground” was invented and promoted by gun lobbyists, to legitimize and legalize aggression and murder. Self defense laws were always sufficient, and barring a racist jury, Zimmerman would have been convicted. His actions would never have met the standard for self defense – he went looking for a fight, for an excuse to kill Trayvon Martin. And got away with it.

  7. 7

    Having followed the case pretty thoroughly I don’t think Zimmerman got away with murder. The evidence disputing his self-defense claim was always very weak, and legal theories invalidating it (for instance, because “he should never have gotten out of his car”) had no basis in Florida law.

    That’s not to say there isn’t racial bias in the Florida justice system, of course. I agree with you it’s a travesty the case wasn’t more thoroughly investigated at the outset. I also think the prosecution put on a particularly poor showing, with half of their witnesses effectively testifying for the defense, their failure to put on a rebuttal case, and all but arguing reasonable doubt in their closing. But just because the system is biased in favor of whites doesn’t mean every white who gets charged is guilty.

    BTW, I take it you haven’t heard of the Aaron Little case?

  8. 8

    Overcharging did not hobble the case against Zimmerman. It literally cannot, since every element of manslaughter is also present in the definition of 2nd-degree murder. That’s how lesser included offenses work in Florida and it’s nearly automatic. In fact, prosecutors have no reason NOT to overcharge.

    So overcharging presents a very real, in fact HUGE racial justice problem. Not so much in the Zimmerman trial, since he had “dream-team” lawyers and expensive expert witnesses, but for poor (especially minority) defendants relying on overworked public defenders. It allows the state to use the threat of excessive sentences for inflated charges to intimidate and bully them into accepting plea bargain agreements, even if they’re innocent.

  9. 9

    @6 – This was not a “stand your ground” case. Zimmerman’s claim was that he was pinned under Martin and unable to retreat, rendering any question of his legal duty to do so moot.

  10. 10

    Re DaveL @ #9

    In fact, the defense declined to use the stand your ground defense. It was completely irrelevant in this case.

  11. 11

    a) I said I was disgusted with the Stand Your Ground nonsense, as shown in the other two cases exposing this double standard, not that the Stand Your Ground nonsense had bearing on this specific case. I am aware that the defense declined to use it. The PROSECUTION should have used it, as Martin was standing HIS ground.

    b) I am aware of Aaron Little, who was allowed to use the Stand Your Ground laws despite being a black felon illegally possessing a firearm. That does not mean he was successful in defending himself — as far as I can tell, the case is still ongoing, and/or nobody’s covering it any more. No word on whether or not he’ll be acquitted despite all the other facts in hand.

    I am not the only one to notice that Florida laws related to gun murders are deeply steeped in racism.

  12. 12

    I have been slowly coming around to the idea that the bible and various other ‘sacred texts’ are nothing more than long-winded lists of reasons it is acceptable to murder people (And by extension, when it is permissible to lie, steal, rape, and so forth). That this is not some bizarre fringe-benefit, but their primary function.

    “Hey, so here’s a list of rules you can murder people for breaking – oh, and and here’s a long list of anecdotes and precedents you can cite to aviod obeying them yourself.”

    And, moreover, that that’s the way such texts are used even today. Many’s the time I have gotten into a debate with a biblical literalist, and always, somewhere in the midst of the argument there will be this palpable change in their demeanor – it’s not that they stop listening, exactly, it’s that they turn inward, as if they’re trying to sort me into a category of people it’s permissible to murder, and then disengage when they decide they can’t do that.

    Religious people frighten me.

  13. 13

    “I can’t help but see racism in the entire thing”
    I wonder how folks like you actually think believe where or how “race” actually comes into play ? When making the laws ? By interpreting them ? By subsuming a person’s behaviour to the law ?

    At what point in the Zimmerman trial do you believe the jury has either deliberately ignored facts, misinterpreted the defendant’s behaviour or simply ignored the established interpretation of the law in order to justify their prejudiced assumptions and reach a pleasant verdict ?

    There are indeed high profile cases where you could rightly assume that juries might have done some of that, but in order to assume a “racist pattern”, you would not only have to show that colored folks are regularly getting the short end of the stick, but you’d also have to conclusively explain how we see (A) highly questionable verdicts that are in favor of colored people (Hello “OJ Simpson”) and (B) highly questionable verdicts that have got nothing to do with a defendant’s race (Hello “Casey Anthony”).

    Hectically accumulating all sorts of remote circumstances and “context” will get you nowhere, because you haven’t got any substantial evidence for your assumptions in the first place.

    Race baiting is stupid. And racist. Bias much ?

  14. 15

    I guess the question for people who insist that this was a legitimate self-defense case is: If someone is following me with a gun, what am I legally allowed to do? Apparently any attempt to protect myself physically is, if it is in danger of being successful, grounds for execution by the armed individual. Am I supposed to just throw myself on the mercy of my harasser and hope that he doesn’t feel like killing me and then claiming I attacked him?

  15. 17

    M, you can defend yourself, you just can’t use force against someone who’s shown no sign of offering violence against you. The judge in this case, who was hardly bending over backwards for the defense, did not include in her charge to the jury either an instruction on provocation, or any regarding such offenses as stalking or assault. In short, there simply is no evidence that Zimmerman provoked an attack against himself, whether by initiating an unlawful use of force or otherwise. Therefore these theories about Zimmerman being the aggressor or Martin being the one entitled to ‘stand his ground’ are not based on the evidence.

  16. 20

    The PROSECUTION should have used it, as Martin was standing HIS ground.

    There is no way to use “Stand your ground” in a prosecution. If the victim had a right to stand his ground and defend himself it can only be against an unlawful use of force by the defendant. If such an unlawful use of force existed, that alone nullifies the defendant’s self-defense claim. Any question of the victim’s duty to retreat is irrelevant, unless he is also being charged for HIS use of force.

  17. 21

    Therefore these theories about Zimmerman being the aggressor or Martin being the one entitled to ‘stand his ground’ are not based on the evidence.

    Wait, there is no evidence that Martin engaged in anything but walking home, quite successfully so before Zimmerman turned up.
    So, do you have any evidence that Martin engaged in anything illegal?
    If not, what is Zimmerman’s reason to engage Martin?
    What’s his reason to not leave the boy fucking alone?

    If this is legal, then legal doesn’t mean shit. If the government won’t do as much as convict somebody for killing an innocent school-kid because they thought themselves to be Chuck Norris then the government fails its citizens in protecting their lives.
    That might be legal, it’s not just.
    Why follow the laws of such a government?

  18. 22

    @17 There is no evidence that anyone BUT George Zimmerman provoked the confrontation. It was Zimmerman who kept following Martin when the 911 operator told him not to. It was Zimmerman who got out of his car when the 911 operator (and the neighborhood watch guidelines) told him not to confront someone. (And it’s bullshit to say he was trying to find out what street it was-that neighborhood where he had lived for four years has a grand total of three streets, and Zimmerman had already told the 911 operator which street). We don’t know who threw the first punch, because of the only 2 people who saw it one is dead and the other’s statements to the police were a bunch of self-serving lies. But we do know that George Zimmerman could have avoided the confrontation by staying in his car, and if he was really was scared of the “big black man” why didn’t he do exactly that?

  19. 23

    Yes, Giliell, yes we do. We have Zimmerman’s injuries and the testimony of John Good. The illegal conduct in question would be the battery of George Zimmerman. For some reason people seem to gloss over that.

  20. 24

    Here’s a cynical view of things, based on the indifference of authorities to even investigate a gun-related killing of a youth in his own neighborhood.

    The prosecution did not really want to prosecute this, they just wanted to do whatever minimally to appease the angry ones? So they conduct a trial, a slip-shod one, and they allow jurors who would not be empathetic to a black youth being killed.

    They succeed, and the killer walks free.

    Wait till the gun that was returned is on eBay “to pay for mounting legal costs” and is bought by a ted Nugent or a Glenn Beck as memorabilia.

    You know the thing about watering the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants? Now would be a good time.

    Violence is unreasonable. Therefore, responding to it with reason is unreasonable

  21. 25

    DaveL is right. George Zimmerman was innocently walking down the street and was not following Martin, who was skulking with intent to walk around while black. Zimmerman then looked like someone who might have more skittles on him and Martin (who was black at the time) could not resist puttin a WWF beatdown on some Whitey with possible skittles. At that moment – Zimmerman who was innocently stalking a possible black teenager who was, everyone will admit, wearing a hoodie, felt threatened and threw himself (at great risk it must be noted) under an obviously melanin enhanced evildoer and then felt fear for his life and shot in self defense. Easy. The only way that Martin could have defended himself and gotten Zimmerman (the innocent victim in all this) convicted was to let Zimmerman shoot him in front of pale-colored witnesses.

    All of this assumes of course that 1) black people are always up to no good 2) black people who are not up to no good, have no right to walk around doing nothing wrong and 3) when lighter colored people shoot darker colored people…well all right then

    oh and 4) someone that has already bought a bag of skittles will want to assault someone on the chance that they possess more skittles.

  22. 26

    They made NO attempt to protect or investigate the scene. They did not drug test the perpetrator. They made NO attempt to find out if he lived in the complex. It was a case totally bungled by the police from the beginning.

  23. 27

    DaveL @ 23 —

    What version of Zimmerman’s injuries, exactly, do we “have” as evidence? According to you, the first few people who examined Zimmerman don’t count, because their descriptions are incompatible with Zimmerman’s “I chased an unarmed teenager and he completely unreasonably started kicking my ass” version of events. Why is it, then, that only the medical reports further removed from the time of the incident and/or further removed from the actual initial examination are “evidence”?

  24. 28

    It’s so sad that the law didn’t give Martin any right to defend himself. If you follow someone walking alone at night, it’s completely reasonable that you would be taken for a mugger/rapist, especially when Zimmerman made no known effort to identify himself. If Zimmerman was doubling back on a hiding Martin, Martin would probably have been scared and willing to prevent being mugged. I would have had a taser ready for Zimmerman myself. Sad to see the law favors vigilanteism. Never thought I’d see that.

  25. 29

    The PROSECUTION should have used it, as Martin was standing HIS ground.

    The prosecution didn’t use this argument because it’s not a good argument.

    Martin was not on trial, Zimmerman was. Because of the subjective nature of the test for self defense, it is actually possible for both parties to a fight to successfully claim self defense and win. I’ve personally seen it in a simple assault case. (Both guys in a fight said they’d done what they’d done because they feared the other guy attacking them and were acquitted in separate trials).

    The prosecution had the burden to prove that it wasn’t self defense beyond a reasonable doubt. All zimmerman had to do was create “reasonable doubt” that it was self defense.

    The theory of the case that Zimmerman’s counsel presented was that Zimmerman got out of his car and followed martin (confronted him I guess?) and then was returning to his car when Martin attacked him, and was on top of him when Zimmerman pulled the gun out and shot him. The fact that the back of Zimmerman’s head and his nose were bloodied were at least consistent with this, as was expert testimony that the bullet wound was consistent with this theory.

    The prosecution had virtually no evidence contradicting this theory, primarily because Zimmerman is the only actual witness to the altercation.

    Remember the prosecution has the burden of proof and must prove it wasn’t self defense. There are basically two options at this point. (a) arguing that Zimmerman’s proof is faulty and should be disbelieved, or (b) admitting that even if you take Zimmerman’s scenario of what occurred (i.e. Martin physically attacked him) he still does not have a valid claim of self defense. Your argument appears to be the latter.

    At common law you could use lethal force if you reasonably fear for your life or great bodily harm. “you” Is subjective, as in the test is whether you actually believed you were in danger. However, your belief is compared against a hypothetical “reasonable person” who has your history and is in your situation..

    Again, if we’re constrained to admitting that Martin threw a punch first. The first big roadblock is that there is very little evidence as to what Martin was actually thinking. The closest thing is the girlfriend’s testimony that Martin said “there’s a creepy ass cracker following me.” Is that sufficient proof to show that Martin was in fear for his life?

    Second, typically at common law the “initial aggressor” is not allowed to claim self defense, however there’s an exception for when the “initial aggressor” retreats and is pursued.

    Again, Zimmerman’s theory, was that he got out of his car and followed martin, but was returning to his car when Martin attacked and landed the first physical blow. The prosecution had no real evidence to controvert this scenario. Who is the aggressor here?

    If a guy is following you on a public road, is that a valid reason to attack him? What if he’s following you and says “stay right there, I’ve called the police?” What if he’s just following you and says “hey you! Stop!”

    Then flip it back to Zimmerman’s perspective. if Zimmerman’s subjective belief is that Martin is a criminal (even if that belief is based solely in racist stereotypes), then Martin comes after him and lands the first punch. From Zimmerman’s subjective point of view, who’s the aggressor?

    This is where we come back to Zimmerman being on trial and not Martin. Hypothetically if Zimmerman was following Martin, and Martin assaulted Zimmerman, survived and was charged with Assault, Martin could have a self defense claim.

    But when the only real proof available establishes that Martin landed the first blow. It becomes very difficult to argue that any self defense claim by Zimmerman is invalid because by following Martin, Zimmerman invited Martin to come and attack him.

  26. 30

    @29: No, self-defense is an affirmative defense – the defense attorney needs to prove (though not necessarily beyond a reasonable doubt – the bar is usually set lower) that it was self-defense if they wish to raise it. The prosecutor needs to prove that Zimmerman killed Martin beyond a reasonable doubt (this was stipulated by the defense, as it generally is with affirmative defenses), while ze would only need to show that there is insufficient evidence to establish a case of self-defense (in a perfect world).

  27. 31

    I was on a jury once: a white MD was accused of shoplifting, and the security guards who testified against him were all black or hispanic. A fellow juror, a Cuban-American, told me during deliberation that he thought that blacks were violent by nature, and that they wanted revenge for slavery. The defense attorney said that the head security guard (who was black) attacked his client, and provided no evidence other than photos of injuries. (That an altercation broke out and injuries were sustained was not in dispute, but no evidence was provided that the client was attacked by this person.) If you think blacks are violent by nature, how much convincing would you need to believe this account? I reported the man’s comments to the judge. He reminded us that race, etc., may not be taken into consideration, but did not remove the man from the jury. He DID remove two jurors who made racist comments during testimony, but I suspect they were remove for talking, not for the content of their comments. The comments had to do with their lack of surprise that the black female security guard had a child but was not married.

  28. 32

    @29: No, self-defense is an affirmative defense – the defense attorney needs to prove (though not necessarily beyond a reasonable doubt – the bar is usually set lower) that it was self-defense if they wish to raise it. The prosecutor needs to prove that Zimmerman killed Martin beyond a reasonable doubt (this was stipulated by the defense, as it generally is with affirmative defenses), while ze would only need to show that there is insufficient evidence to establish a case of self-defense (in a perfect world).

    You are generally correct, but specifically wrong.

    What you describe is the law in a plurality of states.

    In Florida, self defense is not an affirmative defense. The defendant need only plead the defense, and then the prosecutor must disprove it beyond a reasonable doubt. This was actually enacted as a separate section of the Stand Your Ground Law.

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